THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION
Radha Blank (Writer, Director) as Radha.
Photo by Jeong Park/Netflix

How Radha Blank’s '40-Year-Old Version' Found Its Beat

The debut film from the acclaimed TV writer and playwright is a love letter to her hip-hop roots.

Radha Blank is a modern classic, fresh yet familiar. A 2014 flyer from her debut stage show features a very Illmatic-esque, sepia-toned image of a young Radha, presumably in kindergarten or first grade, peering into the camera like she can’t wait for recess. That April night at New York City’s Joe’s Pub, the celebrated playwright from Brooklyn was literally and figuratively transforming into one of her many monikers—an MC named RadhaMUSprime—a brash and witty boom-bap barista pouring all of her pain into tall, hot cups of “f**k it.” Her truth spills over in lines like “Why my skin so dry? Why I’m yawnin right now? Why them AARP ni**as sending sh*t to my house?” on “This Is 40,” one of several treats from the live mixtape that manifested into a Youtube series and is the foundation for her feature film of the same name: The 40-Year-Old Version.

“With RadhaMUS Prime, I had gotten fired off a film, my first professional screenwriting gig, and I was really frustrated,” says the forty-something whose writing and producing credits include The Get Down, She’s Gotta Have It, and Empire. “I just needed to create something that was mine and I decided to write a web series about a playwright who was down on her luck who wanted to make a mixtape as a way to get through her problems and it just made sense."

Like a true Gen-Xer, 1986’s Transformers: The Movie served as a muse for her reinvention. “My name is Radha, I grew up in the time of The Transformers so it made sense that I would be RadhaMUSprime. You know that scene in the movie when Optimus Prime goes on to the great Robot Heaven in the sky but still kind of communicates with Hot Rod, who is fighting Galvatron over The Matrix of Leadership? The Matrix is kind of shaking and all of a sudden you hear Optimus say ‘Arise, Rodimus Prime’ and it’s how I open all of my live shows. That’s the one that stuck with me.”

The Forty-Year-Old Version is the culmination of a dream that began that night on the stage at Joe’s Pub. It is RadhaMUSprime’s origin story. Having already achieved critical acclaim for her plays like SEED, Radha fell into a rut of sorts, which was compounded by the passing of her mother, a visual artist and a free spirit who named her after a baby elephant. So she sought to tap into her days of banging on lunchroom tables at Murry Bergtraum High School, spitting bars that would leave her classmates in awe. Shot in black and white, FYOV feels like an A Tribe Called Quest video, so much that it literally opens with “Electric Relaxation,” but set in the present day. There is also a very Hollywood Shuffle feel as she skewers the white theater establishment hellbent on pushing poverty porn as art.

The Netflix-streamed original film boasts the acting debut of New York lyricist Oswin Benjamin playing her producer, D, who says more with his eyes than his mouth. And he’s joined by a guest list of emcees that reads like the ingredients in the best bag of Rap Snacks you’ve ever tasted. Forty-Year-Old Version is overflowing with the kind of tension, humor, and creativity that made songs like her provocative Big Daddy Kane remix, “Hoteps Hoteppin,” so unforgettable.

VIBE spoke with Blank, Benjamin, music director Guy Routte, MC Mickey Factz, and producer Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz about crafting the soundtrack to the best hip-hop movie of 2020.

VIBE: There is so much great music in this film. How did you go about making the musical decisions for this?

Radha Blank: I made this film for New Yorkers who really love the culture and who might be a little nostalgic about it, too. One of the big compliments I’ve gotten about the film is that people think it takes place in the ‘90s. We all famously call it the Golden Era, but a lot of the videos from the ‘90s like Tribe, Latifah, and Digable Planets were part of my digital look book. I was listening to a lot of that music as I came of age, but I was also listening to it as I made the film. And I wanted the new beats, the beats that came from D [the character], to feel like it came from that time. So, I got to work with Guy Routte who is not only my music supervisor, he’s one of my closest friends, and he would go out and find this stuff for me. I said I wanted it to feel like D produces music for Sean Price or Heltah Skeltah and he knew just who to get—Da Beatminerz and Khrysis. I’m not saying a 22-year-old hip-hop producer couldn’t make these sounds, but these sounds have fat on them. They’re thick and they’re grown. We were in the studio for hours just listening to track after track and the sign that it was the right beat is when I started free-styling. If my impulse was to start rhyming, we knew that was the one. Since D is such a non-verbal character, he had to have beats that spoke.

Guy Routte: I met her in 2015 at Black Star Film Festival and we have mutual friends, Shawn Peters, in particular, an incredible cinematographer who worked on a lot of Pharoahe Monch videos, and I was telling Shawn that I wanted to get into the film world. He said he was going to Black Star and I jumped on a bus and met Radha there and we instantly clicked. She’s a big hip-hop head and a fan of the kind of music I’ve been involved with.

She was very, very clear about what she wanted. There were songs already in the script. A lot of jazz stuff. Her father was a jazz musician so she knew she wanted to use one of her father’s pieces. We ended up using two in the film. She knew she wanted this Quincy Jones song “Love and Peace” and this artist Courtney Bryan. A lot of the music was already baked into the pie but we knew that there were some things we needed to create.

It’s a dense film in terms of music but there’s a lot of bits and pieces. The song “Harlem Ave,” Radha wrote that. She already had it, she wrote the rhymes, melody, and hook and worked on it with Luqman Brown who used to be in a group called Funkface. He’s been working on scoring pieces. She’s so musically inclined.

Oswin, this is your first acting role. How did you prepare for it?

Oswin Benjamin: I got the dialogue and I read it over. It was like memorizing a verse but things don’t gotta rhyme so it was easier. I would run the lines with my wife and I’d call my friend Chris Rivers [youngest son of the late Big Pun] and run lines with him. Then I’d memorize the last two lines of what Radha would say so I know where I come in. I didn’t want her to say something and then I miss my cue.

RB: You hear how he just dropped that name on us? Because you know all his best friends are the best MCs in New York. “My friend Chris Rivers…”

OB: Shout out to Chris Rivers, I love him.

RB: Actually, it was Chris Rivers that brought Oswin to my attention because there was another MC I had in mind but he wasn’t available. So I went to Google search and typed in "New York Rappers” and this video pops up with Chris Rivers. I knew I saw it a few years ago but I was like who is this other dude? And it was this guy named Oswin Benjamin and then I went down this rabbit hole of watching all his music videos and I kind of just knew in that moment that this person has all the energy. They look like a New Yorker; they can convey a certain emotion with their facial expressions. He was a gift to the cast.

How much of your MC experience did you bring to playing D?

OB: As far as playing a producer, coming from my hip-hop background, I’m around producers all the time. So just taking up mannerisms from producers I like to work with, [how they act] when they’re around people that aren’t good and people that are. The energy in the room, how that shifts between the talented people and the people who might not be as talented, being able to zone in on those things.

Radha, how did you decide on the great cameos?

RB: I just made a list of all my favorite New York MCs that kind of span a certain era, people who are still out there rhyming. Not only are they ear candy but have a particular presence on screen. One actor stayed in character and insisted that we call him “Mr. Bus Driver.” He would not let us call him by his name because he was taking his role so seriously. It’s a hug. It’s the movie hugging you. It’s saying that the culture is still very relevant and we’re having fun with it.

That vendor on the train, I used to do an imitation of them in my teen years because, for me, hip-hop is not just about the pen, it’s about sonics and that’s one of the most distinctive voices the culture has, between him and Guru [of Gang Starr]. I just wanted to have that moment.

There is a really dope rhyme cipher scene. How did that come together?

GR: She started filming and said she wanted to do a cipher so I got Mickey Factz and Kemba.

Mickey Factz: We shot that at Arlene’s Grocery. It looks like a bodega from the outside but on the inside, it’s an actual club. That’s in the Lower East Side, off Houston. We shot that scene downstairs where the coat check and the bathrooms are. So we’re just on the steps rhyming. Oswin was there and he wanted to rhyme so bad. He was angry that he couldn’t rhyme but between takes, we would rhyme just to make him happy. She was like I want Mickey to set this off. As she’s walking in, I’m already rhyming and I’m just kicking this rhyme and I end it with: “Inverted triangle on the overcoat, I feel like Forest Gump when he lost polio/ That was too straight forward, let me space out/ I’m glad that I had the gumption to break out/ If you ain’t catch that bar, it’s time to OD/ brace yourself, Gump’s shin is what broke free…” When I first said that rhyme everybody broke character and we had to shoot again. Then Kemba rhymed and then Kemba made all of us break character. You know Kemba gives you that soul-spiritual tirade.

RB: I know how hard it was for Oswin to sit back in scenes where Kemba and Mickey Factz are tearing in. He’s sitting back playing the producer. We might have some BTS footage of him getting in there. He was so good at staying focused on his role as producer speaking through music.

There is a hilarious song called “Pound The Poundcake” that plays throughout the movie. Who is responsible?

MF: Radha and Guy reached out to me about doing a song for the movie so I’m thinking I’m gonna put together this “lyrical miracle” record. So he sends me the record produced by Da Dreak and it’s this trappy, tongue-in-cheek parody. There’s a lot of curses in it and it felt like satire. What a lot of people don’t realize is that I enjoy trap music and I have a fanbase that enjoys trap music and a lot of trap artists reach out to me to be featured. So I know how to make mumble rap.

I sent it to them and they loved it. I thought they were trolling until I showed up to the movie set to do my cipher scene. There were kids who came up to me after we wrapped [up] and Radha said, “This is the guy that made ‘Poundcake’ and they were like, “You made ‘Poundcake’? We love ‘Poundcake’!”

I’ve done a lot of stuff like that. When College Humor was around, I did a lot of their rap stuff like "Galactic Empire State Of Mind” so it’s not too far fetched.

D’s studio setup looks pretty legit. This isn't a Juice situation where the turntables aren’t plugged in.

GR: When they were setting up the studio, they asked me to get a rundown of what he should have in the studio so I called up Raydar Ellis, who is a producer and MC and also a professor at Berklee College of Music. He teaches hip-hop production at Berklee and he told me what should be in there. They wanted to make sure the producers of the world would watch it and see he had what he needs. They knew how to get the theater situation in an authentic way so they wanted to make sure they had the hip-hop minutia. There is a scene in Arlene’s Grocery where we had Organized Konfusion posters on the wall. We wanted it to feel like a hip-hop space.

The closing credits feature a flip of Quincy Jones “Love and Peace” and you have some other beats placed throughout the film. Were those tracks what you had in the stash?

Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz: The majority of them were beats I had, but the Quincy Jones flip I made specifically for the movie. Guy hit me and he said, ‘Can you do something with this Quincy Jones thing?’ I already had the record. I said, ‘It’s not in my BPM range,’ but I said, ‘Walt, you’ve been trying to get into movies, take that shot.’ He said he wanted something like what we did and I never really changed my sound. I just made it more 2000 and whatever. Me and my brother [DJ Evil Dee] were never ones to follow trends. We always stay true to the Boom Bap sound.

Radha: I’m really proud of the people who showed up for this film. We were at Sundance and we did very well there, but a lot of the people covering it made no mention of these cameos and it was very obvious to me that they weren’t of the culture. That’s why having this conversation with you means so much because I made it for us.

The Forty-Year-Old Version is in select theaters and streaming now on Netflix.

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(L-R) Flex Alexander and Shanice attend the Soul Train Weekend Kick-Off Party on November 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo by Earl Gibson/BET/Getty Images for BET

Interview: Flex and Shanice Talk 'Virtual House Party,' Staying Together And That Call From Aretha Franklin

Shanice and Flex Alexander are ‘90s Black pop culture in the form of husband and wife. Shanice was an R&B ingenue with a hypnotic smile and powerful voice beyond her years when her sophomore album Inner Child propelled her to pop status thanks to the 1991 hit “I Love Your Smile.” Flex was a background dancer for acts like Sal-N-Pepa, before becoming a comedic actor and a mainstay on our TV sets during the golden era of Black TV in the ‘90s through early ‘00s.

After years of pulling in approximately $25K per week (according to Alexander) and not knowing how to properly manage the income, the couple lost their home, liquidated their assets, and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. They chronicled part of their journey with their reality show Flex and Shanice on OWN from 2014 to 2016 and are now positioning themselves for their respective next career chapters.

A big part of Flex’s next chapter was announced in July, when Netflix revealed they were bringing a slate of UPN shows from the early ‘00s arriving to the app this Fall. The line up includes Girlfriends, on which Flex originated the role of Darnell Wilkes; and One on One, which features Alexander as a single dad to teenage Kyla Pratt (and also features Shanice singing the theme song). Following the eagerly met premieres of classics Moesha, Girlfriends, and The Parkers, One on One and Half & Half (Essence Atkins and Rachel True) premiered on Thursday on the video streaming platform.

The couple, who celebrated their 20th anniversary this year, talked to VIBE recently about adjusting during the COVID-19 pandemic, growth as a married couple, and that time Aretha Franklin asked her to play a role in the upcoming Respect biopic.

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VIBE: How have you all been doing with everything that's going on?

Shanice: We're hanging in there. (Flex) doesn't like it when I say, "We're hanging in there."

Flex: We are doing exceptionally well. We are alive, we are healthy. Just dealing with it like everybody else, taking it one day at a time because you can't really plan too far ahead.

Did you ever think that we would be going through something like this?

Shanice: No, never. Flex said he kind of...Didn't you say over the years you thought...No. You said you read a lot of books and stuff.

Flex: Yeah. I do a lot of reading and stuff from my college days. Just stuff that talk about this stuff that's going on I like to get into. Everybody thinks it's conspiracy or whatever, but I just didn't think it would be in my lifetime. It is an adjustment for everyone. Like she said, we try to find the positive in it. We sit at the table, we eat dinner at the table, we can sit down. I say, "Baby, do you want to watch a movie?" We sit there and just hang out. Before, we were just crossing [paths where] everybody's hustling and grinding, hustling.

With the senseless police killings, racism seems to be at an all-time high. What type of conversations are you guys now having with (teenage children) Elijah and Imani now that they're older and this could happen to them or any other young adult? What are you telling them?

Flex: This is something I know I've been talking to Elijah about not just since this. When he was younger, just explaining him as a young Black kid, being a Black teenager turning into a young Black man, just the crosshairs that's on their back. You talk to them about if you're pulled over what to do, what not to do. We don't like to let him ride. He has friends that have cars and I'm like, "No, four or five of you all in the car? No. That's an open invitation." It hurts us because their regular daily livelihood has just changed. They would just walk down the street to the store. Now, we're like, "No."

Shanice: He [Elijah] has one friend that we allow him to be around. One of them wanted to play basketball and wanted me to drop them off at the park and I said no. There was a noose in our area.

Flex: Less than a mile from our house.

Shanice: Less than a mile from our house, there was a noose at the park. I sat in the car and I just watched him play. Normally, I would just drop him off and come back and pick him up, but I don't feel safe anymore.

Flex: And we have to have the conversation with Imani as well because it's not just relegated to just men and boys, women, too. We get ahead of the conversation, but they are very keen. Listen, information is traveling fast. They got these phones, they see stuff as well. A lot of the time, they tell us stuff and we're like, "What?" We just try to instill in them the best that we can and just pray over them.

 

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Throwback photo of @flexaforeal and I ♥️ We look like kids Flex lol

A post shared by shanice (@shaniceonline) on Sep 21, 2020 at 7:22pm PDT

Shanice, nobody sounds like you. You were a young pop icon, not just as an R&B artist, but also in pop - and paved the way (for other young crossover singers). How does that feel today?

I just feel blessed to have longevity in this industry. I've had my ups and downs. You know how crazy this industry is and sometimes you get frustrated and it's like, "Why am I doing this? I want out. I don't want to do this anymore." But then, when I get online and I talk to the fans directly on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, it keeps me going. I get emotional because I've had some great moments in the industry, but then I've had some very low moments and it gets frustrating sometimes. I love music. I love singing. It's in my blood. I've been singing since I was seven months. I do it because I love to sing and I love my fans. I have the best supporters out there.

You both are such a likable couple and people gravitate to you from all walks of life, from all nationalities. What is it about you two that they can identify with Flex and Shanice?

Flex: Just being us.

Shanice: I think we're just being ourselves.

Flex: We're just being ourselves. I'm on here deejaying on Instagram and she's here dropping it like it's hot. (Shanice laughs) That's what she does. We just try to be ourselves and we show a little bit of that doing the reality show and sharing what we went through because we wanted people to know what we went through and that you can come out of it. We just don't, I'm going to say a real old school word, we don't put on airs-

Shanice: Airs. (Laughs) That is real old school.

Flex: ... for anyone. We're in here every day. I want to throw it back to her real quick. I see the pain and stuff that she goes through the ups and downs and disappointments. Even through all this, you're still like, "Man, is it a place you want to reach?" She feels like, "I didn't get there." I said, "Listen, you've had more success than a lot of people and it may not have been here, but people love you." Whether they like to hear it or not, she's paved the way. There's no dig against anybody because a lot of them have said it. You paved the way for the Monicas, the Brandys. Beyonce even spoke to her and told her Solange sang your song (“I Love Your Smile”) at a talent show. I try to tell her just, "Hold on to that and just keep doing what you're doing," because you see where everything is going in the business, in the industry. And to have a good name and people that love you, I think, is a great thing. That brings longevity.

You guys have been staying creative. I see you’ve been doing virtual house parties. Who came up with that concept?

Flex: It came from me starting deejaying back in 2016. I was doing it once a week. Every Thursday I was doing, and she would be in the bed. When we got here, I started doing it again. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic. I just jumped on, and then she came over and then just started—

Shanice: I was like, I said, "Let me be your hype girl." (Laughs)

Flex: It worked. It's at a point now where if I get on it by myself, people are like, "Where's Shanice?"

Shanice: I like to drop it like it's hot. (Laughs) It’s fun.

Flex: It helps our mind because we didn't know what ...I'm talking about when it was like March when it was cold and rainy out there and all of this gloom and doom...we didn't know what was happening. The people that came in and people that were on our page, people said, "Yo, this helped me so much get through the night or helped me get through the week. Man, that meant more than anything." I didn't care if there were 10 people on there or 10 thousand. We just go on there. We shout everybody out.

 

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Thank you EVERYONE for rocking last night!!! We appreciate your undying support, to our day one #LockdownwithFlex family you already know!!! And my fellow New York brother @lilcease thanks for hanging last night we hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane✊🏾✊🏾

A post shared by flexaforeal (@flexaforeal) on Jul 24, 2020 at 11:39am PDT

Flex, you’ve written and produced your own TV show, you’re a comedian....Are you working on any other current TV projects? Will we see you on a screen again soon?

Flex: Before I mention that, I'm excited about Netflix releasing One on One. It was through the Strong Black Lead who really pushed for us to be in more places and to have another life. This is crazy because two years ago, I wrote the reboot. I had it ready to go, and then that happened and I'm like, "Man, This is perfect."

Shanice: It's perfect timing.

Flex: This could lead right to it. I'm thankful for that. I just wanted to throw that out there. We have an animated series that we're working on now. We just got a showrunner attached and we're working on that. I have a drama that I've developed right before the COVID hit. We also worked with a Black-owned company called Ceek, where we do the Flex and Shanice Virtual House Party. They have great programs and they do live concerts. They've had Elton John, they've had Lady Gaga.

Shanice: Jennifer Lopez.

Flex: They have DL Hughley on there with Chris Spencer, [and] we're on there now. What they're trying to do is create this virtual experience [where] I come in, I deejay, [you] put your (VR headset) on and you're in the party. It’s great to partner with them and just continue to stay active and creative. It just keeps you going.

Shanice: And I've been doing live concerts in my living room.

Flex: Yeah. It's crazy because we've worked a lot.

Shanice: We've been doing so much in this living room. (Laughs) Like Flex said, we were working before the pandemic, we're working our butts off more now.

Tell us how you balance being in the entertainment business, being stars, having a family and being married. You're probably going to tell me love, but there has to be something else besides love that has kept you together. What do you think it is?

Flex: Honestly, praying is the first.

Shanice: Praying. Yes.

Flex: And communication. We can agree to be disagreeable.

Shanice: We've had our ups and downs. It's not like it's been all great, but we do love each other and we don't go to bed angry. We're mad at each other and we try to talk it out, and I just feel like you’ve got to try to make it exciting and you can't get too comfortable. People, after a while, they get bored in their relationship.

Flex: There are times that she ain't checking for me; she doesn't like me right now, so I'll come downstairs and she'll be up here. There's time's out like that. We go to different parts of the house and we figure it out.

Shanice: And we try to give each other a little space to breathe. We may come back to the situation and talk about it.

Flex: Every day you figure it out, you grow. I think I'm understanding who I am more now at 50 than I did at 30 or 35. I just love being here, being with my family, us having fun together, the kids. It's a beautiful thing, man. It's a beautiful thing.

Flex, what’s one thing that Shanice has taught you about being married? What have you learned from her?

Flex: Growth. I would say growth because if there's anybody that I've seen grow is her. If there's anybody I've seen with perseverance, it’s her. Her patience, her kindness, her. It has really taught me to listen more because as the man you're like, "I got it." She says, "Something ain't right," and I'm like, "I got it." Learning how to cut that off in my brain and go, "You know what? I need to listen. I need to listen to her. I need to hear her." I think that was probably one of my biggest hurdles is not that I didn't listen, but listen and go out, really listen and apply it. I've just seen so much from her in 20 years that I'm just like, "Wow, man. We've got 100 more to go." I just want to grow some more, and we’ve got more fun to have and love to have. We're done with the babies, though.

Shanice: Right. No more babies.

Flex: We're done with the babies.

Shanice: No more babies.

Flex: No more babies.

Shanice, what one thing Flex has taught you, or that you’ve learned by being married and connected to him for so long?

Shanice: I've learned that people over the years grow and they change, and sometimes you have to learn how to go with the change. I've learned to try to adjust to the change because we're not the same people we were 20 years ago.

Flex: Not in a bad way, though.

Shanice: Not in a bad way.

Shanice, you’re an international pop star. You started in pop and then crossed back to R&B, and can travel the world with just “I Love Your Smile.” That's big in itself, but can you share some of your greatest accomplishments? 

I think when I got nominated for a Grammy, that was like a big highlight for me because when I was a little kid I used to always look in the mirror and I used to practice my speech. I used to always dream about getting awards. I have several moments: the Grammys, (Aretha) Franklin, rest in peace—when she turned 50 the Queen of Soul reached out to me and flew me and my band and my dancers down to her house. I did a whole concert in her living room with a band and dancers and everything. That was so big for me.

Meeting Michael Jackson, singing on three of his records. I sang in the background for like three songs, and that was big for me. Just being able to travel all over the world. “I Love Your Smile” was No. 1 in..I believe it was 22 countries. I've traveled all over the world and I'm still traveling the world because of that song. “Saving Forever For You” was a big record for me as well with Diane Warren and David Foster. That went to No. 5. It didn't go No. 1, but it was almost number one. That was another big pop record for me. So you're right. I came out pop and then I crossed over to R&B.

I’ve got another Aretha story. I have to say this. I was having one of my moments when I was frustrated about the industry. I was home and I was crying and I said, "God, I don't want to do this anymore." I was feeling really low. I was like, "I'm done. I don't want to do this." And then, Flex came home and he was like, "Somebody reached out to me.” I think it was Aretha’s sister-in-law saw Flex and said Aretha wants to get in touch with Shanice. Here’s her cell number. So Flex comes home and says, "Miss Franklin wants to get in touch with you. This is her cell number." I'm like, "Me? Really?" I called her and we talked for like probably an hour. We talked for a long time, and she said, "I reached out to you because I want to tell you I know real talent when I hear it, and you got it." This is when I was feeling down. This was nothing but God telling me keep going.

So she said, "We had auditions. I'm doing a movie about my life, my life story." And she said, "Most likely Jennifer Hudson is going to play me, but I would love you to play my sister." I’m sitting on the phone like, "Yeah!" They'd been talking about this movie forever. Even when she was alive they were talking about the movie, and I said, "Anything you need. I would love to be a part [of it]." We talked several times over the years about the movie. Unfortunately, she passed. I think God wanted just to encourage me to keep going. I think that's why that happened. It was just to tell me to keep going. I just had to share that story.

Flex, what would you say to the younger Flex as he’s just starting out in the entertainment industry?

Take everything in more. Enjoy it. Don't fly through it so fast. Tell the people you love that you love them while you have them. I would have learned more about the business on the financial side to plan better. Those would probably be the things I would say, but I think overall, it would be to take it all in, sit back and take it in more. I think things happen so fast and it's like, I'm here, I'm there, I'm dancing, Salt-N-Pepa here, boom, traveling the world. And then, you think it's all going to keep going. You think it's all going to just last forever. And then, next thing you know, you look back and the time has passed and all you have is maybe a picture. I think that would be the thing I would tell myself.

Shanice, what would you tell up and coming talent that is trying to break into the entertainment business?

Shanice: I would tell them to definitely do it not for the money, do it for the love. The money and all that stuff will come. Believe in yourself. Back when I started, you had to get the approval of a huge record exec to put you out there. And now, because of the internet, you don't have to wait on somebody to tell you if you're good or not. You can put out your music on iTunes and get out there and create an audience online. I would say just don't give up on yourself, keep trying. It may not happen overnight. It might. There are people like Justin Bieber. He got on YouTube and he's one of the biggest stars in the world. Everybody's story is different, but you just have to keep trying and keep believing in yourself.

Flex: Yes.

Shanice: Just don't give up. You’ve got to keep going. Even when it seems like it's impossible, you just gotta keep going.

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Lakeith Stanfield To Voice African Samurai In Netflix Anime Series ‘Yasuke’

Lakeith Stanfield will voice the starring role in, Yasuke, an upcoming Netflix anime series on the first known African samurai. The streaming giant announced a handful of new anime programs along with updates on nearly a dozen others during the 2020 Netflix Anime Festival live stream from Japan on Tuesday (Oct. 26), Deadline reports.

Set in war torn Japan, the series chronicles Yasuke’s struggle to keep the peace following a violent past life. A change in circumstances forces him to take up the sword in protection of a “mysterious” child who becomes the focus of “dark forces.”

A village in danger, a mysterious child, warring daimyo, and the greatest ronin never known all clash in a Japan of magic and mechs. Learn the story of the first African samurai when LeSean Thomas’s Yasuke, voiced by Lakeith Stanfield, arrives next year. pic.twitter.com/jCabzutMIv

— NX (@NXOnNetflix) October 27, 2020

LeSean Thomas created, executive produced, and directed the series with character design from Japanese animator, Takeshi Koike, and music from Flying Lotus. Stanfield is also an executive producer on the series.

Last year, Chadwick Boseman was reportedly in talks to portray a live-action version of the story. The actor passed away in August.

Yasuke is believed to have arrived in Japan in 1579 and was trained by legendary warlord Oda Nobunaga. The animated series debuts on Netflix next year.

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‘Candyman’ Reboot Pushed Back To Next Summer

The long-awaited reboot of the ‘90s horror flick, Candyman, has been pushed back yet again. The film, written by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, is now expected to arrive on August 27, 2021.

Like many productions delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Candyman remake has been postponed more than once. In September, Universal Pictures removed the film from its calendar. Da Costa later explained that the film was made to view in theaters.

“We wanted the horror and humanity of Candyman to be experience in a collective, a community, so we’re pushing Candyman to next year, to ensure that everyone cans the film in theaters, and share in the experience,” DaCosta tweeted at the time. Her Twitter account has since been deleted.

Described as a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 original, the reboot stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the supernatural monster lurking within the character Anthony McCoy. The film’s premise finds McCoy (Abdul-Mateen) returning to the now gentrified Chicago area where the legend of Candyman first began.

“I’m really honored to be stepping into those shoes,” Abdul-Mateen said in an interview with Collider.com. “They’re big shoes to fill because, obviously, that’s an iconic character and a story that people relate to. Even people who have not seen it, have ideas about it, or they’ve still been able to interact with it, and that iconography has penetrated their lives. So, it’s an honor to be able to step into that, and to re-tell that story, and to introduce the mythology of Candyman back into the world, in 2020, and to put our own social lens and our own spin on it. I think that’s gonna be a lot of fun, to put that iconography back into the conversation.”

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